South Sea Textile Manufacturing Company Ltd
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Thanks to Carles Brasó Broggi for this image of South Sea Textile Mills which comes from an undated Annual Report from the 1960s.
The text reads “Covering an area of about 18 acres, the premises of The South Sea Textiles Mills are situated in the New Territories of the Kowloon Peninsula, about 9½ miles from the island of Hong Kong. The aerial view above shows the spinning and weaving mills along the sea front, below the highway, and the offices, dormitories, and recreation grounds above the highway. The two sections are linked by a subterranean tunnel running under the highway.”
Carles mentioned this company and how it developed in his article Shanghai Spinners: Pioneers of Hong Kong’s industrialization, 1947-1955 posted on Nov 9th 2013. This extract shows the relevant section:-
” South Sea Textile Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (南洋纺织有限公司) was founded in Tsuen Wan by Tang Xinghai (Tang Ping Yuan) in March 1948 starting operations in January 1949. Like C. Y Wong, Tang Xinghai was a pioneer in the Chinese dyeing sector and, like the Rongs, came from Wuxi, in Jiangsu province. The Tangs were a wealthy family that sent their male members to be educated at the best universities in the US, such as Boston’s MIT. However, in 1945, some members of the family were accused by the Guomindang of collaborating so it is very likely that the Tangs left China for this reason. Another company, South Textiles Limited (香港东南纺织有限公司) was founded in 1948 but started to operate in 1949 in Castle Peak Road. The firm was run by the sons of a famous textile trader and industrialist named Liu Guojun, who decided to stay in Communist China. During the war, the Liu family had already moved one factory from their native Changzhou (also in the Jiangsu region) to the safety of Shanghai’s International Concessions. The sons of Liu Guojun, Liu Hankun and Jerry H. T. Liu (Liu Handong) moved to Hong Kong afterwards continuing with the textile business. Meanwhile, the daughter of Liu Guojun (Liu Biru) married Cha Jimin, a dyer who pioneered in establishing one of the first and most important finishing mills in Hong Kong: China Dyeing Works (中国染厂有限公司).”
Hugh Farmer adds: for additional information please see:- http://www.hkmemory.hk/collections/postwar_industries/all_items/audio/201308/t20130827_64248.html which has a written introduction in English to an interview in Cantonese, given by Chi Woo Wha who in the 1950s worked for South Sea Textile Manufacturing Company as an apprentice and learned about welding, electrical works and the repair and maintenance of textile machinery.
This extract from the introduction contains a brief account of how the Mills operated:-“As it had to use intensive labour to work for shifts round the clock, South Sea Textile Manufacturing Company insisted that all of its 1,000 or so workers lived in the dormitory inside the factory premise. As the spinning machines at that time were not efficient, it relied on intensive labour to keep up the productivity. Initially workers worked for 12 hours per shift. It was changed to 8 hours and 3 shifts in a day later on. The factory also had its own clinic manned with nurses on three shifts a day, plus a private doctor who came for consultations once a week. The typical wage for apprentices here was only $1 per day and apprentices also had to sign a two-year’s training contract. The daily wages for ordinary workers and technicians were between $4 to $5 and $6 to $7 respectively, whereas the monthly salary for supervisors was $300-$400.”
Source: The Hong Kong Memory Project
This article was first posted on 9th December 2013.